Japan Implements New “Sayonara” Tax on Travelers

Visitors to Japan now have to pay a departure tax.

Japan Implements New “Sayonara” Tax on Travelers

Anyone who wants to visit Japan now through cherry blossom season and beyond will have to pay an exit tax.

Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

New year, new taxes. Since Monday, January 7, Japan is charging all visitors a departure tax. The ¥1,000 fee (US$9.25) has been nicknamed the “sayonara tax” because all international travelers will need to pay up before they’re allowed to leave the country.

While it makes that trip to Japan cost a little more, travelers will be the ones to benefit from the tax. The government plans to use the revenue generated to expand and enhance the country’s tourist infrastructure in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and beyond, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) says.

With an estimated ¥50 billion (US$461,877,500) generated from the tax in 2019, the government intends to put the new revenue toward three main areas. In addition to creating a smoother, “stress-free” environment for travelers by adding more facial recognition gates at airports and seaports to speed up the passport control process, the government also plans on improving access to information about Japan’s attractions by adding more languages to placards at national parks and cultural sites.

Lastly, the government plans to use the money to develop more tourist resources so that foreigners can take advantage of “the unique cultural and natural assets of respective regions,” the JNTO said in a statement. While the wording is vague, it appears that Japan wants to put more money into helping travelers get out of the main cities of Tokyo and Kyoto to discover the rest of what the country has to offer, whether it’s by promoting less-visited regions or making it easier to reach them by train.

All international tourists will be charged the tax, but there are a few exemptions. If you booked your travel before January 7, 2019, you won’t be charged even if your departure date is after January 7, 2019. Also, children under the age of two, anyone leaving Japan via air or sea within 24 hours of arrival, and people who enter Japan due to bad weather or unavoidable circumstances won’t be charged, according to the Japan Times.

Japan is hardly the only country that charges travelers departure taxes. Australia tacks on a $60 (US$43) “Passenger Movement Charge” to all airfares out of the country, while you’ll pay US$20 in cash when you leave Anguilla via air or boat, and US$25 when you fly out of Cambodia.

>> Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to Japan

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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